As we prepare ourselves for wind chills well below zero, Wisconsin State Patrol officers are bracing for a busy day of recovering stranded vehicles.
“People don't always plan for emergency situations,” State Patrol Sgt. Ryan Chaffee said. “They're used to having no problems getting from one point to the next. But when a situation does come up, it's good to be prepared.”
Chaffee recommended having an emergency kit in your car at all times, including warm clothing, a fully charged cell phone, a flashlight, and snacks.
Chaffee also said if you do end up on the side of the road for whatever reason, make sure you don’t keep the engine running the entire time. He added cracking the window is a good idea because even though it’s cold, carbon monoxide could be a problem.
“If you don't have to be out there, it's a wise decision to just wait out the storm until the weather is more conducive to traveling,” Chaffee said.
Chaffee said if you do have to drive, you should let someone know when and where to expect you or even carpool with someone to provide additional assistance in case of emergency.
“If your vehicle isn't running, it doesn't take long when you're in -10, -20, -30 degree weather to have problem,” Chaffee said.
In Grant County, 131 motorists slid off the road or crashed on Sunday. Snow drifts still tower over drivers on some roads, some six to seven feet tall.
Sheriff Nate Dreckmann said fire crews had to work hard to both rescue and house dozens of drivers whose vehicles had gone off of the roads.
“Once the temperatures started dropping more, and then the wind chill dropped even more, yeah. It becomes very dangerous,” Dreckmann said.
Officials also suggested filling up your gas tank, not just to prevent the gas lines from freezing up, but to also give you enough fuel to keep your motor running if stranded.
Dreckmann added making sure your exhaust is cleared out in a snowy situation can help keep you safe. He said the best thing you can do is stay in your car if you happen to get into a less than desirable situation.
“The biggest thing I tell people is if you slide off and go in a ditch, stay in your vehicle. Call 911, stay in your vehicle so we know where you're at,” Dreckmann said. “We did have a case last night where someone got out of their vehicle and walked a half mile away from their vehicle and thought they were going to a home. Well, it was an abandoned farm house.”
Chaffee said winter driving tips can be found by visiting dot.wisconsin.gov. Drivers can also dial 511 for current road conditions.